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This story is a tribute to new students of mine who brought with them some rare commodities—courage and tenacity. The story goes like this:
Prior to the end of 2016 I had received several requests for a drawing class. “I want the basics,” they said, and that made me more than happy. Rare it is to find these days a beginner who understands how important it is to start at the beginning, let alone several, unrelated, at the same time. (To be clear, painting is not the beginning, drawing is.)
So I obliged and offered a course I called Fundamentals, Parts I and II: Drawing and Painting the Still-Life. The first day was a great success (or so I thought). It was February 4th, 2017, there were five students, and three had paid the registration fee, which implied they were committed to the class. I did a demo on how to start, then each assembled a simple still-life and got to work.
As the weeks passed, the numbers dwindled. Subject matter just not sexy enough? Something else? I don’t know.
What I do know is that the student who stayed with it—Yana, a talented and strong-minded Siberian—produced a beautiful still-life in graphite. Here is a gallery of her effort:
But this story isn’t just about Yana. It’s also about Livia.
Livia came late to the course at the beginning of March when only Yana remained. I had already gotten to know Livia from the Figure Drawing class I held on Thursday evenings. After a couple of weeks of figure drawing she asked me if she could attend any other class so she could put in more time. I told her about the Fundamentals class and said she could join it on one condition: you stick with it to the end. She agreed.
Much to my delight, she kept her word. By the end of March, she was the only one. (Yana had left to visit the homeland.)
Livia’s development was a joy to see from week to week, which you can witness for yourself in the gallery below. In light of the fluid world we live in today, it is most comforting—nay, most relieving—to be reminded that some understanding and practice of basic principles are ever pillars of reward. I am especially pleased with what she was able to accomplish with the painting. Could it have been thus without some knowledge of drawing? Perhaps. But rather than count on providential intervention during a baptism-by-fire painting experience, I’d prefer to see more like her have the courage to tackle the fundamentals first.
So this story is to say “thank you” to Livia and Yana for seeing the strength in the basics and sticking with it.
Brave! Sono orgoglioso di tutte e due.
Founder and Director
The Painting and Drawing Art Studio of Rome
From Wednesday, May 3rd to Saturday, May 6th, 2017, PADASOR was very proud to host an international group from Finland, France and Rome for an intensive oil-painting workshop with the American painter, Charles Weed, that focused on the still-life (skulls and shells) and the portrait. With plenty of enthusiasm and good humor to go around, it was a great pleasure (and luxury) to work diligently from 10:30 to 18:00 for four days straight. Never a surprise, though no less disappointing, when such quality time quickly comes to an end.
I’m sure the take-away for each was unique to her temperament, but allow me to share what I thought to be the principle lessons:
My thanks to all participants: Paivi, Lisa, Antonella, Joëlle, Mary Ellen and Ludovica. Photos below of the group and the incredible development of each of the paintings.
Finally, speaking as a figurative painter and educator, Charles Weed is one of the finest I know on both accounts. The empirical reasoning and straight-forward specificity of his teachings brings to mind a quote I am rather fond of by the writer David Mitchell: the tighter the straight jacket, the more spectacular the escape, which is essentially a succinct and clever argument for the necessity of rules in art. I am convinced that without rules, there is no craft; without craft, there is no art. Or, as Charles might say, there is no thingyness. (Trust me: it’s more profound than it sounds.)
In essence, Charles is very, very good in helping others to see those rules.
Thank you, Charles, for your precious time, infectious passion, and generous friendship. Until the next time, a toast to the shifty Mississippi and old leather suitcases.
Founder and Director
The Painting and Drawing Art Studio of Rome
Figure drawing starts Thursday, February 4th; portrait painting alla prima and advanced painting start Saturday, February 6th. Reserve your place today. In addition: you are invited to join me for a free lecture on Saturday, February 6th at 15:00. For all details, please visit our Courses page.
Finally, remember that even if you can’t join us in the Fall, but were able to be with us in the Spring or Summer, you are invited to participate in our end-of-the-year show on December 13th. More details to follow.
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